Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) plans to pursue an increase in transportation investment during the next legislative session.  The six-term governor, reelected November 4, said he is interested in raising the motor fuel tax, but is also open to other options.

“The discussion will start now. The timing is good because gas prices have dropped significantly. That makes it a little more palatable to the public,” Brandstad told the Des Moines Register November 6. “I also think trying to take a new approach, not just the old gas tax, but really looking at the whole funding formula for the road use tax fund and see if we can come up with a more modern system that will meet our needs for the long term.”

House Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Brian Moore (R-Bellevue) and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tod Bowman (D-Maquoketa) agreed the state fuel tax would be the primary focus when the Legislature convenes.

“If the governor jumps on board I think he’ll gather more of the conservative votes, and, my God, we’re getting down to where we’ve got to do something with these roads,” Moore told the Des Moines Register.

“Last year wasn’t the right timing for some people, but I think they’re going to give it some serious consideration,” Bowman added.

Iowa last raised the state’s motor fuel tax to 21 cents-per-gallon in 1989. The state faces an annual $215 million shortfall for highway and bridge construction, according to DOT officials. A 2011 study commissioned by Branstad recommended increasing the state’s fuel tax rates by eight to ten cents-per-gallon and raising registration fees on the sale of motor vehicles by one percent.